When did it become politically incorrect to wish people Merry Christmas?
Last year I received many Christmas cards. Except many weren’t. They said “Season’s Greetings”. Or “Happy Holidays”. Often with an incorrectly placed apostrophe, just to make things worse…
What season? Summer? Nah. Too many of the cards had snow depicted on them. And not all of those ones were sent to me by northern hemisphere friends and family.
And what about all those wonderful people who work over Christmas? Our doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. Those of you who work in retail so many can buy a last minute Christmas gift, or front up at 6am on Boxing Day to take advantage of the sales – I did that for many Christmases. And then there are those who work in hospitality and feed the masses who really can’t be bothered cooking a meal on Christmas Day. None of them are having “happy holidays”!
Christmas was a big deal.
Not for the gifts – although they were a big deal to childhood-me. As was the amount of chocolate I could eat before breakfast on Christmas morning.
The religious aspects of Christmas were very important to many family members, especially to my very devout Catholic mother and her siblings. Of equal importance was the time spent together as a family where we shared a lot of laughter, happiness, sometimes words of anger and frustration – let’s not sugar coat it, Christmas can be quite stressful!
Growing up I didn’t know anyone who didn’t wish me a Merry Christmas. And this included our Jewish, Muslim and Hindu friends. As well as those who didn’t worship a religious deity. It was the done thing in those weeks leading up to 25 December.
There were no wishes of “happy holiday” and only the very, very rare “season’s greetings”.
Which is why I wonder how the political correctness of no longer saying “Merry Christmas” came to pass. Especially in corporate Christmas messages.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics the majority of Australian’s identify with a Christian religion, at 61.1% (compared to 95% in 1911). However in 2011 22% of Australians chose the option of No Religion on the Census form (compared to 0.4% in 1911’s Census).
And an article in Forbes last Christmas suggests that “the faithful are tired of being marginalized into a generic land of political correctness, and they are becoming more and more vocal about it”.
Interestingly, some American research shows that eight out of ten non-Christians also celebrate Christmas, with most viewing it as a cultural holiday rather than a religious occasion.
So this year when I send out Christmas messages to family, friends and clients, you can expect me to say some variation of a greeting with the word Christmas included.
And if you snarl at me, or criticise my choice of wording, then you can expect me to mutter Bah Humbug back.